Dropping PCR tests at the borders ‘will encourage visitors’

SCRAPPING border testing for most arriving passengers leaves Jersey well-placed to benefit from good levels of visitors across the winter season, a leading figure in the travel industry has said.

The change comes into force on 2 November after the half-term holiday
The change comes into force on 2 November after the half-term holiday

Robert Mackenzie, chief executive of C. I. Travel Group, welcomed last week’s decision that fully vaccinated passengers would not be required to undergo a PCR test on arrival.

The change, which comes into force on 2 November after the half-term holiday, acknowledges the progress of the Island’s vaccination programme and will be accompanied by a greater emphasis on self-administered lateral-flow tests.

Mr Mackenzie said the industry had seen strong demand for Jersey as a short-break destination during September and October, even when PCR tests were required on arrival.

He added: ‘It’s undoubtedly the case that the removal of the test will further encourage visitors during what is normally a quiet time. I’m not saying the Island will be over-run by tourists, as we are still a seasonal destination but, if this results in a few more visitors during the period from November to February, then that’s a fantastic thing for the visitor economy.’

The relatively straightforward procedure in travelling between Jersey and the UK was likely to see the Island remain an attractive destination, he added.

With effect from Friday, all Islanders aged 12 and over will be able to register to have packs of lateral-flow tests sent to their homes and will be encouraged to take twice-weekly tests.

Such tests have been used increasingly as part of the screening process for direct contacts of positive Covid cases, as well as for school and workforce screening, in recent months.

Dr Ivan Muscat, deputy medical officer of health, wrote to parents and school pupils ahead of the half-term break urging them to continue to use LFTs while off school.

‘Testing twice a week is important as it allows us to identify positive cases in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19 to our friends, families and teachers,’ he said, adding: ‘It is vital that we do not lose this momentum during half-term when you might be socialising more and attending Halloween events and parties.’

The government is also encouraging more young people to obtain a Covid vaccine before returning to school, with the vaccination centre at Fort regent open throughout the half-term break.

Around 30% of those aged 12 to 17 have had a single vaccine dose, with Dr Muscat saying he hoped to see a rise in this level to help Jersey maintain its efforts to combat the pandemic.

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